Last night 1,000 people came out to oppose coal exports in the small Washington town of Mt Vernon. The Power Past Coal Coalition rocked the third hearing in a series of seven hearings across the state on the scope of the environmental review process to export 48 million tons of coal per year through Cherry Point Washington.
Mt Vernon,which has given the key to the city to Glenn Beck showed that this is not a partisan issue,coal exports is not good for our communities no matter where your political leanings lie. Business owners,mayors,doctors,scientists and moms,dads and grandparents came out to speak to the issues of traffic,safety,and threats to local business,our climate and air quality.
The sea of red clearly defined our presence. The pro terminal people,of which there were only a handful,wore green causing on paper to write,“If red means stop and green means go,the sentiment at Monday’s public comment meeting on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal was in big,bold,capital letters:‘STOP.’”
This is the result of nearly a year and half of work with local residents led by the Transition Fidalgo, the Sierra Club,Climate Solutions and many others. Last summer we held our very first volunteer meeting at a room rented at the local train depot. Over 50 people attended that meeting and though people have come and gone,we have maintained that core number.
We worked in teams,one of our most successful was the Business Outreach Team,led by Mary Ruth and Phillip Holder,Mike Cook and Ed Gastellum,which generated over 200 business opposition to coal exports. Our tabling and events team,led by Tracy Montaron,worked tirelessly over the spring and summer generating over a thousand comments and sign ups on the ground,and then phonebanked them all to attend the hearing. Our health outreach team,led by Ginny Wolff delivered about a dozen or so health professionals to testify at the hearing. And of course our fearless leader Carolyn Gastellum inspired the charge every step of the way.
The first hearing in Bellingham had 1,800 people;the hearing in the San Juan Islands had 450 putting our combined total so far at over 3,000 since every hearing was overwhelming dominated by us. We still have four hearings to go!